By Selwyn Harris
Though it was not officially on the agenda, Pahrump Town Board members discussed the evaluation process for Town Manager Bill Kohbarger during their regular meeting earlier this month.
With two newly elected board members joining Harley Kulkin and Dr. Tom Waters on the dais in January, Waters had a few questions for his colleagues on how the board should approach the matter.
He wondered whether the evaluation should be conducted by the present board or wait until the town board-elect members are able to take part in the process.
His question was based on his personal experience shortly after being elected in 2010.
“The other thing I have is the six-month review on the town manager. Have we worked on anything regarding that? The reason I’m asking that question is because we are going to have two new board members come on in January and that’s about the time we are doing it.
“I know how I felt when I first came in and having to do an evaluation, having not really sat up here and done any real supervising. I’m just wondering how we are going to handle that with the two new board members,” he said.
Waters was referring to Amy Riches and former Town Board member Bill Dolan who happens to be familiar with Kohbarger’s work ethic from serving on the board after being appointed to the position by then Gov. Jim Gibbons back in 2008, the same year Kohbarger was hired as town manager.
Kohbarger told Waters that the evaluation was scheduled for late December pursuant to what the board agreed upon during contract talks back in February.
At that time, the board gave Kohbarger a vote of confidence by offering him a three-year contract, which went into effect July 1.
“We will get the forms out to the four current town board members and let the four review the six month policy pursuant to the new contract. That is what you and Mr. Kulkin put into the contract, but it had to be done by the end of December, if I remember correctly.
“The town board with my permission can change that and do anything you deem necessary. If you four want to do it and have it in by the end of December, that’s fine. If you want to wait until another six months that is totally up to you guys too,” he said.
Waters went on to suggest that the evaluation should be performed by the sitting members rather than waiting for the newly elected members who will take their oaths in January.
Town Board Chair Vicky Parker told Waters that the board should have the evaluation forms ready by mid-December, mainly because there will be just one more meeting until the end of the year.
“Direct staff to get the evaluation forms to the current by Dec. 15. Give us say a week to turn them in and you can review it or accept it in January because this current board won’t have another meeting. You want it for the end of the month,” she said.
Waters also noted that information contained in the evaluation will be shared with the incoming town board members.
“I think with the two new board members, if they see exactly what we’ve accomplished, they may feel that they can accept it as well. Let’s direct staff to get it together for us,” he said.
Kohbarger’s last evaluation could best be described as tumultuous.
The board could not seem to reach a consensus on whether to terminate the town manager’s contract following their performance assessment.
The evaluation revealed that Kohbarger had support from board members Kulkin, Waters and Parker.
At the time, then Chairman Mike Darby and fellow board member Carolene Endersby essentially gave Kohbarger a thumbs down on his annual review.
During a subsequent town board meeting, both Darby and Waters reversed their positions on Kohbarger.
The town manager had the support of Darby while Waters and Endersby expressed their disdain for Kohbarger’s performance.
In the end the board voted 4-1 to offer Kohbarger a new contract.
Darby cast a no vote. Endersby vanished from the board shortly after. Her spot is still vacant eight months later.
Kulkin said after much reflection, he gained a new perspective for the town manager after working with him on various projects.
“I think we have a very capable town manager. I personally feel we have a great working relationship. I had a certain opinion when I took office and after I expanded my experience and saw what was going on and I see that this board is very involved in working with the town manager. I think we have a great team working here and I see no reason why the team should be broken up,” he said.
Waters, meanwhile, said that the board did not provide Kohbager with necessary tools to allow him to succeed.
“We as a town board failed to give him the goals and objectives. Individually, we told him what we wanted, we told him what to do, but at the same time, we did not give him goals and objectives as required by our own policy. The last six months of the year we saw vast improvements in what he was doing because we had given him goals and objectives,” he said.
There have been a few changes on the complexion since Kohbarger’s last performance review.
At present, the town is still waiting to hear from the governor who was expected to appoint someone to fill Endersby’s seat shortly after her departure.